Beyond Dreams Entertainment (BDE) in order to prevent misuse of confidentiality information and copyright violation instituted a suit for injunction against Zee Entertainment Enterprise (ZEE) before the Mumbai High Court. The primary focus in the suit instituted by BDE was on the production of a TV Serial by ZEE primarily based upon the concept notes of BDE which were well within the knowledge of ZEE.
BDE in their suit contended that -
- In or about March 2011, BDE developed a concept for a TV show, which was initially titled as "Paachva Mausam Pyaar Ka" (Fifth season of love). The concept was reduced to a concept note and was also registered with the Film Writer Association on 11 June 2013.
- BDE thereafter worked from time to time and developed the concept and fleshed the same out extensively so as to convert it into a full-fledged TV series with title of the concept note undergoing a few changes and eventually being differently named as "Badki Bahu" (eldest daughter in law) with a tag line "aaude main sabse chhoti..umar main sabse badi... hai toh ghar ki chhoti bahu magar kehlaygi-Badki Bahu".
- BDE contended that between 11 June 2013 and about March 2014, it worked on the various versions and presentations of the concept notes which contain the developed concept, story, pitchline, plot, tracks, family, characters, names, set design, jewellery design, etc and from time to time shared the concept notes with ZEE.
- Sharing of concept notes was in circumstances of confidence and was on the basis that ZEE promised BDE that the former would telecast a serial based on the BDE's concept notes and that the production of this serial would be entrusted to BDE.
- When the television serial was ready to be launched ZEE insisted that BDE take on board a co-producer and recommended a few names in this regard. Both discussed the modalities, but BDE never accepted the proposal for taking a co-producer on board and instead withdrew the concept notes from ZEE.
- Thereafter ZEE proceeded to announce a new serial to be launched on its new television channel being titled as "Badi Devrani" (sounding colloquially similar to BDE'S TV show title which in English would mean eldest sister in law), which, BDE argued is entirely based on the concept notes prepared by them and shared with ZEE.
ZEE has responded to the arguments of BDE on the following counts -
- BDE has not identified what is the confidential material which they seek to protect as anything and everything which forms part of the concept notes, purportedly shared by BDE with ZEE cannot be a subject matter of confidence.
- To claim confidentiality, the BDE has to make out a case of uniqueness of the material shared by BDE with ZEE which they have failed to do so.
- The concept notes on which BDE is claiming right has been developed in discussions between BDE and representatives of ZEE, and are based on inputs given by the latter.
- It is neither a case of breach of confidentiality nor a case of infringement of copyright, since ZEE has not used any material, which forms part of the BDE's concept notes, for producing their serial.
The court after examining the facts of the case opined that there are three important elements of a claim for protection of confidence. Firstly, it must be shown that the information itself is of a confidential nature. Secondly, it must be shown that it is communicated or imparted to the defendant under circumstances which cast an obligation of confidence on him. In other words, there is a relationship of confidence between the parties. Thirdly, it must be shown that the information shared is actually used or threatened to be used in an unauthorized manner by the Defendants, that is to say, without a licence.
Bringing the claim of BDE within the parameters and horizon of protection of confidentiality the court inferred that BDE has not only prepared the first concept note and got the same registered, but has proceeded to develop this concept note into various character sketches, plots and other material and it would not be proper and just to permit ZEE to exploit the work created by BDE by launching a serial based upon the concept notes created by BDE. Given the factual matrix of the case, the Court was of the view that no irretrievable damage shall be caused to ZEE in case they are restrained from telecasting the serial which was based upon the concept notes created by BDE.